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MEMOIR 

OF 

CAPTAIN NATHAN HALE 



Thus, while fond Virtue wished in vain to save, 
Hale, bright and generous, found a hapless grave ; 
With Genius' living flame his bosom glowed, 
And Science charmed him to her sweet abode ; 
In Worth's fair path his feet adventured far, 
The pride of Peace, the rising hope of War ; 
In duty firm, in danger calm as even, — 
To friends unchanging, and sincere to Heaven. 
How short his course, the prize how early won, 
While weeping Friendship mourns her favorite gone ! 

Pres. Dwighi's Conquest of Canaan f Book /. 



NEW HAVEN. 

PRINTED BY S. BABCOGK. 



1844, 



*. 



Entered, according to the Act of Congress, in the year 1844, 

BY S. BABCOCK, 
in the office of the Clerk of the District Court of Connecticut. 



MEMOIR 

OF 

CAPTAIN NATHAN HALE 



Captain Nathan Hale, one of the first and noblest self- 
martyrs of the American Revolution, was born in the town of 
Coventry, Conn., on the 6th day of June, 1755 ; the sixth of 
nine sons. Of a warm, yet sober temperament, and a strong 
and thoughtful mind, his early youth gave promise of great- 
ness, and it was carefully trained by pious and liberal pa- 
rents. After gaining the best academical education which 
the country then afforded, he entered Yale College, and 
graduated at the early age of eighteen, with the highest hon- 
ors as a scholar, and the no less high character as a man — the 
favorite both of his class-mates and teachers. 

With high aims and aspirations, he was early distinguished 
for a heroic devotion to free principles and his country. His 
infancy was nursed, and his manhood fed, in the very air of 
freedom. Its spirit he had drank in from the maternal breast. 
He had felt it around the light and love of his own hearth- 
side ; heard it from the seat where he went up to pray. It 
had lived with him a companion of health and joy in his daily 
duties ; it had come a visitant of purity and loveliness to his 
young dreams. He had caught it all amid the scenery of a 
romantic home — by the hills and streams, the woods and 
meadows — in the skies and winds of his own green land. He 
had learned to commune with it, not only in the visions and 
voices of nature, and in the sublime teachings of revelation, 
but among classic halls, from the classic pages of Freedom's 
" Elder Born ;" till that spirit became the star of his hope, 
the ideal of his worship, and he followed it with his whole 
soul. 



4 



MEMOIR OF CAPTAIN NATHAN HALE. 



But a field was now opening wherein that devotion was to 
be tried. The sound of war had gone up from the plains of 
Lexington, and the echo rang like a wakening summons 
through the length and breadth of the land. 'T was the dis- 
tant roar of the fast coming storm. The blow had fallen, the 
sword had been drawn and reddened, and there was no longer 
hope of peace or reconciliation. The calm tempered, yet 
strong hearted New Englanders, saw the threatening and 
made ready to meet it like men. The face of society was in 
a moment changed. The farmer left his plough in the fur- 
row, the mechanic dropped the utensil of his craft from his 
hand ; even the clergyman, in some cases, closed the sacred 
book on his pulpit desk, and dismissed his startled hearers ; — 
and one and all harnessed them for the fight, and hurried 
away to the scene of conflict. Then went forth the old, the 
middle aged, and the young ; their hearts beat high, and 
swelled with one enthusiasm ; they all felt young. Every 
town and village, almost every private dwelling, resounded 
with the clank of arms, and the bustle of preparation. The 
ways were seen crowded with moving masses, pressing and 
pouring onward to breast the front of danger. Then was 
shown the might of woman, as well as the valor of man — of 
woman, so tender in her gentleness and her love, yet so strong 
in the trying hour. The mother, the wife, the sister — the 
beloved, the betrothed one, gave up all they held dearest, those 
to whom their hearts were clinging — gave them up in sad- 
ness and submission, and held their tears to weep in the 
agony of lonely and anxious bereavement. 

Foremost among these brave men, was young Hale. His 
native land was bleeding : her rights had been outraged ; her 
liberty trampled under foot. He could not bear the sight 
without lifting his arm in her behalf. No cause could be 
greater, or holier, and no worldly interest, or peril, or dissua- 
sion — not the privilege of the sacred profession which he 
appears to have adopted, could withhold him from espous- 
ing it. 



MEMOIR OF CAPTAIN NATHAN HALE. 



6 



After leaving college, he had been engaged in teaching an 
academy at New London, with great success and popularity. 
There are persons yet living, who well recollect his mild and 
winning mode of instruction, gaining at once the confidence 
and attachment of both parents and pupils. His modest yet 
manly deportment, his singularly frank and sincere manners, 
free from shadow of deception or disguise. His happy art 
of imparting right views and feelings to his inferiors ; the 
power and charm of his conversation, which made him the 
favorite of both sexes — of the old and the young, in every do- 
mestic or social circle. Withal, his remarkably expressive 
features, the very mirror of his heart, brightening up at every 
new emotion, with a glow and an earnestness that none who 
had once seen could ever forget. 

When the first news of the battle of Lexington reached 
New London, it was at evening. A town-meeting was forth- 
with called, and a few old veterans, then boys, who were 
present, still remember with what energy and eloquence the 
young scholar stood forth and addressed the assembly. " Let 
us march," said the speaker, with an emphasis that thrilled 
every heart to his own enthusiasm, " Let us march immedi* 
ately, and never lay down our arms till we have obtained our 
independence" A bold speech, even a bold thought, for that 
time ; but one which the thoughtful scholar had probably been 
long meditating. Accordingly, among other spirited and pa- 
triotic " Resolutions," it was determined that Captain Coit's 
company, (the only regular one in the place,) should set out 
the next morning ; and young Hale requested, and was al- 
lowed to join them as a volunteer. He thereupon dismissed 
his school next day ; made his pupils an affectionate farewell, 
and took leave. The summer, it appears, he spent between 
the army around Boston and his own state, in raising volun- 
teers, and making other preparations. Early in the fall, 
(1775,) he received a Lieutenant's commission in Col. Charles 
Webb's regiment, and before the close of the year, a Captain's. 
The battle of Bunker's Hill had been fought, and the British 



6 



MEMOIR OF CAPTAIN NATHAN HALE. 



forces still held Boston, while the American troops beseiged 
them on all sides save the water, — from Dorchester, Rox- 
bury, Winter Hill, and the neighboring heights. The post of 
Captain Hale's company was one of the most exposed and 
dangerous, so that even his private friends complained that 
his new soldiers should occupy a place that belonged by duty 
to older ones : but the post of danger was the one he had cho- 
sen, and he kept it. While stationed here, a small incident 
occurred which shows the nobleness of his nature. He had 
gone, one day, to the quarters of General Lee, whom he found 
very much disquieted at the discontent which reigned through 
the army. And even that veteran caught some new encour- 
agement from the ardor of the youthful officer, whom he knew 
and respected. The volunteers, undisciplined and disap- 
pointed, poorly provided and more poorly paid, were all 
murmuring ; many leaving, and more still attempting to leave. 
And the officers found that most would return home before the 
militia could come in, or the enemy be driven from his hold. 
In this extremity, Capt. Hale promised his company his own 
wages, to induce them to stay, and actually, at last, borrowed 
money from a friend on the credit of his own advance pay, to 
supply their wants, and satisfy their somewhat just com- 
plaints. Meanwhile he had been indefatigable in acquiring 
military tactics and skill, and therein disciplining his soldiers. 

In the opening of the spring of 1776, the British evacuated 
Boston, and sailed for Nova Scotia, where they were to re- 
ceive a powerful reinforcement from England, and thence 
make a descent on New- York. 

Suspecting this plan, the American commander had des- 
patched Gen. Lee, even before their departure, to put the city 
and Long Island in a state of defense ; and thither the whole 
army, breaking up their camp at Boston, marched soon after- 
wards. Early in the summer, Gen. Washington had formed 
a select regiment from the army for special service, and gave 
the command to the brave Col. Knowlton, of Mansfield. Capt. 
Hale's company was one. The young officer had drawn the 



MEMOIR OF CAPTAIN NATHAN HALE. 



7 



attention of the Commander-in-Chief, by his uncommon abili- 
ties. One who at this time knew him well, calls him " one 
of the most accomplished officers of his rank and age in the 
army." Another incident, which happened at this period, will 
show that this high estimate of his character, was by no means 
overrated. Our troops were still wretchedly supplied with 
even the necessaries of life — things without which the warm- 
est zeal can not long endure. There was much suffering and 
much repining. A British sloop, laden with provisions, was 
lying in the East river, under cover of the ship Asia, man-of- 
war with 90 guns, 

Capt. Hale formed the bold project of capturing this sloop, 
and bringing her into the harbor of New-York. He soon found 
hardy compeers for the enterprise. At dead of night the little 
band of adventurers rowed silently, in a small boat, to a point 
near the sloop, and there waited for the moon to go down. As 
soon as it was dark, and all still, save the watchman's voice 
from the deck of the Asia, they darted upon their prey, sprang 
aboard, hoisted sail, and brought her into port with the British 
tars in the hold, and without the loss of a man. This exploit 
was loudly applauded, and the daring leader distributed the 
goods of his prize to feed and clothe the hungry and naked 
soldiers. 

But the reinforcement had been received, and a powerful 
armament of some 25,000 English and Hanoverian forces, so 
long threatened and expected, was now at hand, to prove their 
boast and wreak their vengeance in putting down the rebels ! 
The following are brief and hasty minutes from Capt. Hale's 
diary, in his own words : — " Aug. 21 st, (1776,) Wed. — Heavy 
storm at night. Much thunder. Capt. Van Wyck, a Lieut., 
and an Ensign of Col. McDougal's Regt., killed by a shock 
[of lightning.] Likewise one man in town, [N. Y.,] belong- 
ing to a militia regt. of Ct. The storm continued for two or 
three hours, for the greater part of which time [there] was a 
perpetual lightning, and the sharpest I ever knew." 



8 



MEMOIR OF CAPTAIN NATHAN HALE. 



It would almost seem that the fiery strife of the elements 
above, and four victims to its fury, was but ominous of another 
strife below, so soon to follow, and far more numerous victims 
so soon to fall ! Mark the next entry, the very next day. 

" Aug. 22nd, Thursd. The enemy landed some troops down 
at the Narrows on L. Island. Aug. 23rd, Friday. Enemy 
landed more troops — news that they had marched up and taken 
station near Flatbush — their advanced guard being on this 
side, near the wood — that some of our riflemen attacked and 
drove them back 1^ mile." 

Here the minutes break off, and the diary closes. They 
were the last which the writer ever traced there ! The hand 
that penned had other too urgent business for even such brief 
notes. Three days from this last date, on the 27th of August, 
was fought the bloody and disastrous battle of Flatbush — a 
day long to be remembered and regretted in American annals, 
the details of which can not be given here. Our troops, ma- 
ny of them raw and inexperienced, outflanked, surrounded, 
and borne down by overwhelming numbers of veterans, gave 
way at last, after desperate fighting and dreadful slaughter. 
What American heart that hath heard, has not wept over the 
fate of Gen. Lord Sterling's regiment ! Composed chiefly of 
young men, the flower of our army, they bore, by their posi- 
tion, the brunt of nearly the whole battle, and were cut off 
almost to a man. Charging with most obstinate bravery, an 
immensely superior force, and breaking their line, they kept 
them engaged till their compatriots had passed through and 
escaped ; then, and not till then, the handfull remaining sur- 
rendered ; thus saving the sacrifice of nearly the whole army 
by their own ! In this terrible engagement, it seems, Capt. 
Hale's company took part. From the result of the battle, the 
Commander-in-Chief saw a retreat across to the main land 
was absolutely necessary to save the army, now our last stay, 
our forlorn hope. The masterly skill and complete success 
with which this manoeuvre was made, reflect no less praise 
on our great chieftain than any of his most brilliant exploits 



MEMOIR OF CAPTAIN NATHAN HALE. 



9 



in the field. Providence, too, seemed to smile upon the at- 
tempt. A thick fog hung over the island, completely hiding 
the movements of the Americans, while before them the city 
lay in clear sunshine. The foe was thus kept totally ignoran t 
till the prey was safe beyond his grasp. 

But this defeat was a heavy blow. It disheartened the ar- 
my, and cast a gloom over the people. It was a doubtful, an 
awful crisis. The ;£ Declaration" had just gone forth. A 
nation, strong in justice, strong in spirit, but weak in numbers 
and means, goaded by wrongs beyond the point of human en- 
durance, had risen up to assert and defend her dearest rights 
— had uttered her defiance against the proudest and mightiest 
of nations. She had just boldly and solemnly, through her 
Representatives, convened in sober council, spoken that fear- 
fully responsible word — the word of separation, of rebellion. 
In the face of heaven, and before the audience of mankind, 
calmly and deliberately had she spoken it, " Independence" ! 
Another Rubicon was passed, but for a far different purpose 
than of old, and a political gulf forever drawn between the 
two nations. The first great struggle to support that high re- 
solve had failed ! The dejected and half supplied soldiers, 
as fast as their enlistments expired, were leaving by compa- 
nies. The army, the safeguard of our national existence, was 
fast dwindling away, and the people looked on with visage 
troubled and foreboding ! The British commander, haughty 
by victory, yet deigning to show his magnanimity, used all his 
delegated authority and late success to reclaim or overawe 
the revolted colonists ; proclaiming full pardon to all who 
would now accept it, and threatening the most terrible penal- 
ties to every recusant. The hearts of many failed them, and 
they went over, — even, afterwards, two members of Congress 
itself. This was the beginning of that "hour which tried 
men's souls" — the darkest in our country's history. May she 
never see a darker ! 

Washington was now compelled to adopt his Fabian system 
of warfare, of caution and vigilance. To weary and worry 

2 



10 



MEMOIR OF CAPTAIN NATHAN HALE. 



out his foe, rather than fight him in the open field — a system 
which, in the end, proved so successful. He saw that all was 
now at stake. The fate of his country was hanging on a hair. 
That fearful juncture was come, " the turning point," or " tide 
in the affairs" of nations, which all must pass through — the 
moment when the nation's Guardian Genius may be supposed 
put to his sorest need, from the Adversary. 

Expecting every day an assault from the enemy, Washing- 
ton was anxious to learn their strength and disposition by 
inspecting their camp. But by what possible means ? Who 
was able, or who would venture a mission so critical and 
hazardous ? He applied to Col. Knowlton, who laid the pro- 
posal before his officers. None came forward. All shrunk 
from a path so full of difficulty and danger, and so scant of 
reward, either of gain or glory. At last, solicitation was 
made to Capt. Hale. The confidant of the Commander-in- 
Chief, the darling of the soldiery, and the ornament of the 
army, gladly would they have spared him, had another been 
found to fill the place. He accepted the rejected and perilous 
trust. He had just recovered, weak and worn, from a severe 
illness. His friends used all their influence to dissuade his 
going. They represented the hazard of the undertaking in 
the strongest light ; they remonstrated, they entreated his 
declining it. Among others, Capt. Wm. Hull, his intimate, 
at that time a young officer of promise, afterwards of such 
unfortunate notoriety as a General and Governor of Michigan m 
The timid, self-serving wisdom of the one, and the lofty, dis- 
interested heroism of the other, is here shown forth, the index 
of their character, and pointing out their future career. How 
different ! Hull surrendered his country to save his life ; 
Hale surrendered his life to save his country. 

All dissuading and discouragements were disregarded. It 
is said that application was made, after many others, to a ser- 
geant who had served in the French war. He promptly re- 
fused, saying, that " he was ready to fight the British at any 
place or time, but he, for one, did not feel willing to go among 



MEMOIR OF CAPTAIN NATHAN HALE. 



11 



them to be hung up like a dog /" Capt. Hale stood by and said, 
'*/ will undertake the business." He had, perhaps, modestly 
waited for some one else, till he saw none such could be found. 
Then his generous and noble soul arose ; — the generous spirit 
which is then most ready to choose the high path of duty 
when hardest, and by all others forsaken ; — the noble, which 
rises in its strength to the magnitude of its arduous and per- 
ilous task. A higher motive than any mere earthly conside- 
ration, than private affection, personal interest, or public honor, 
prompted him on. That motive was no narrow or selfish one. 
It was the common good of all — his country. She appeared 
reduced to the last gasp ; her spirit was broken and fainting ; 
her banner had been stricken down ; her first young war cry 
of freedom seemed fast sinking in the tempest of foes now 
gathering darkly and fiercely around her ! Her great leader 
saw the danger ; he called, he besought, he could not command, 
some one to risk his own safety for hers. And an offering, a 
single one, was ready at that call. 

Young Hale had eminent abilities for so nice and responsi- 
ble a duty. Ardent in heart, yet cool of head — bold, but pru- 
dent — and his frank nature and open countenance, while they 
made him incapable of deceit, would render him, also, least 
liable to suspicion. Shifting his military dress for a plain 
one, and attended by a confidential friend, he set out from the 
camp at Harlem Heights, intending to pass directly over to 
the enemy's lines on Long Island. But no means of crossing 
could be found till he reached Norwalk, in Connecticut, some 
fifty miles above New York. Here he obtained an American 
armed sloop to convey him across. Just before starting, he 
is said to have handed his watch to his friend to keep until 
his return ; but immediately recollecting himself, took it again, 
declaring he would risk his watch where he would risk his 
life. He landed at Huntington, (L. I.,) and went through all 
the enemy's lines, making a careful and exact survey of their 
posts, defences, order, and numbers. Meanwhile, a part of 
their army had crossed over and taken New York ; the Amer- 



12 



MEMOIR OF CAPTAIN NATHAN HALE. 



ican troops being forced to retire to Harlem Heights, about 
five miles north of the city. In a severe skirmish which took 
place there, the gallant Col. Knowlton was killed, but the 
British were repulsed. 

After fully completing his charge, Capt. Hale had passed 
in safety over to the city, escaped the vigilance of all the sen- 
tries, and was just passing the last picquet guard between the 
lines of the two armies, and not more than two or three miles 
from his own quarters, when he was arrested. The place 
was a tavern stand, then called " The Cedars." When taken 
and examined, it is said that he candidly acknowledged his 
mission, and that, on being searched, the drawings of the 
works and camp, with descriptions written in Latin, were found 
between the soles of the pumps which he wore. Many have 
reported that he was betrayed by a relative, a cousin — a tory 
and deserter. That he had such a relative, — that he was then 
in the British army, is certain. But that he added to the guilt 
of betraying his country, the enormity of betraying a kinsman, 
whose hospitality and kindness he had often before received, 
is not so clear, and for the honor of human nature we would 
hope, not true. Different, too, are the accounts respecting the 
spot where he was taken, as well as the manner of his death. 
Some have said the place was Brooklyn, (L. I.,) and others, 
that he was hung up immediately. In one point, however, all 
agree, that death was inflicted with the most unfeeling cruelty, 
and suffered with the manliest fortitude. The more probable 
account is the one given, and the following. It appears he 
was arrested near night, and taken or reported to Sir Wm. 
Howe, the British commander, who ordered him to be hung 
next morning ! 

It was the 22d day of September, 1776. The sun had 
hardly risen, when the young patriot is led forth to suffer. 
Every consolation is denied him, — a bible, a clergyman. No 
sympathy is shown, — not a friendly eye is around him to 
cheor, — not a kind hand is by him to soothe this last bitter 
moment. Yet he stands firm and collected. Man has forsa- 



MEMOIR OF CAPTAIN NATHAN HALE. 



13 



ken, yet he has looked with his spirit to heaven, and thence 
gained strength and peace. He falls for a glorious cause, a 
cause which now seems expiring, but which heaven shall yet 
prosper. The cause which his young soul had so nobly cho- 
sen, and his manly arm so well defended ; for which he had 
been willing to hazard all, and is now prepared to suffer all. 
He had just finished a letter, the last messenger to his uncon- 
scious kindred, the loved to whom his spirit on the threshhold 
of eternity is yearning, to whom it looks back to give a ten- 
der recognition, one fond farewell, ere it departs to return no 
more ! But that sad, consoling messenger, shall never find 
them — never meet those mournful eyes, nor assuage those 
wounded and bleeding hearts. The savage hangman, a traitor 
and refugee, snatches at it, glances over it, and tears it in 
pieces, for the reason, as afterwards given, " that the rebels 
should never know they had a man who could die with such firm- 
ness /" 

The victim is now hurried to the fatal tree, the rope is ad- 
justed, and the last aspiration is breathing from his lips — 
words nobler than which man never uttered, — " My country , 
would I Tiad another life to give thee /" The work is done, and 
the spirit hath passed away in the fullness of that one earnest, 
passionate regret ! 

Thus fell, in the spring-time of his years, the patriot and 
martyr, the self-devoted, Capt. Nathan Hale, little more than 
twenty-one years of age. His race was brief but glorious. 
From the calm and chosen walks of learning, he had hastened 
at the first call of his native land, to the fields of warfare. 

With no less shining talents there than he had displayed in 
a different sphere, he began a career of the highest promise. 
What might it not have reached ! but how soon was it to be 
ended ! He had drawn the sword for his country in her ear- 
liest wrongs. He had struggled for her, faithfully and fear- 
lessly, in her gloomiest hour. He never lived to see the glo- 
ries of her brighter day. Never lived to reap the meed of a 
wider and higher name, which he had earned so well, and 



14 



MEMOIR OF CAPTAIN NATHAN HALE. 



had else so surely won. A higher name did. we say? Yes, 
a higher, it may be — higher for others, for the world which 
measures so blindly, and often so unjustly, the merit of actions 
by their success, not by their motive, not by their disinter- 
estedness, — but hardly higher for himself. What higher 
sacrifice could he have given than his own person ? No offer- 
ing were more pure, more exalted, more unselfish — he could 
have done no more. Truly hath a divine voice said : " Greater 
love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for 
his friends." His friends were his country — his country and 
all she held ; and that country at her utmost need. 

Such sacrifices have ever been rare, and they who made 
them, have, in all ages, been looked upon as among the exalted 
models of human kind. They have worn the thorny wreath 
but to win the starry crown. To do and to bear all that can 
be done or borne for our fellow-men ; for their weal, for their 
safety, whether in toil or sacrifice, is indeed the height of mor- 
tal nobleness. Well did ancient Rome prize her Horatii, her 
Curtius, her Decius, and her Regulus, with her proudest 
names. Carthage, also, could boast her two Phileni : Sparta 
her Leonidas, and Athens her Themistocles. Nor have more 
modern times been wanting in such names. Italy may be 
proud of her Rienzi, and Switzerland of her Arnold Struthan ; 
France of her Joan d'Arc and " six citizens" of Calais ; Scot- 
land of her Wallace, and England of her Hampden, and Rus- 
sel, and Sidney — heroic minds, who, in one way or another, 
laid down their lives, not in ambition, not for power or a 
throne, but for their country — for all mankind. Minds who 
could coolly and calmly forego all the present, and look for- 
ward to the future for their reward — to that bright reversion 
beyond the grave ! And though few, very few such have been 
in any age — in all ages, yet well for fallen and suffering hu- 
manity, well for us, that some such have been, else the world 
had found no salvation. 

Historians have been fond of comparing the fate of Hale 
with the fate of Andre. Many features in their character and 



MEMOIR OF CAPTAIN NATHAN HALE. 



15 



destiny were strikingly similar. Indeed, the means used, and 
the manner of arrest of the two adventurers were so alike, 
that only priority and authenticity might save from doubt some 
facts in the history of the former ; and nothing but an equal 
authenticity and the coincidence of like purposes, in similar 
situations, producing like results, could save that of the latter 
from wonder, or suspected imitation. Both were young, brave, 
accomplished, and devoted in their country's cause : both 
were the favorites of their respective armies : both undertook 
alike dangerous enterprise : both had almost accomplished it : 
both when taken frankly confessed their missions, and both 
met the same end with a kindred heroism. But here the par- 
allel breaks. Many and important traits are wanting to fin- 
ish it. The two did not undertake their tasks from the same 
motives, with similar facilities, nor with like prospects of suc- 
cess. Andre had set out from the victorious and confident 
party, under promise of great rewards and honors ; above all, 
with the secret connivance and previous well planned ar- 
rangement of the American traitor General ; one who had 
great power and influence, and stretched them all to pave and 
secure the way. This has been too much forgotten. Hale 
went forth among an overwhelming force, haughty by late suc- 
cess, and breathing nothing but vengeance against the newly 
risen " Rebels," as they disdainfully called the colonists — at 
a time, ere defeat had humbled the one feeling, or tempered 
the other with a touch of mercy. He went forth alone, with 
none to rely upon except himself, his God, and his cause, 
from no expectation of recompense or fame, but against both. 
He went forth amid some of his own misguided and renegade 
countrymen, whose watchfulness would be keener to detect,, 
their hatred and slavishness more bitter to punish, than even 
the enemy themselves. 

Again, the circumstances of their death were widely differ- 
ent. Andre was regularly and fairly tried before a court- 
martial of the most distinguished American officers, over 
which the generous Greene, second only to Washington, pre- 



16 



MEMOIR OF CAPTAIN NATHAN HALE. 



sided. His sentence was delayed with, all the indulgence, 
and executed, at last, with all the sympathy possible — more 
than many thought proper. Every favor to satisfy and as- 
suage was cheerfully granted. The hearts of his enemy, of 
the Commander-in-Chief, wept over his hearse, and their hands 
paid respect to his burial. How sadly the reverse was the 
treatment of Hale. No favor was shown him ; no kind look or 
comforting word was given, nothing of what every human 
heart must need in its final and trying agony. The consola- 
tions of religion were refused, even his letter destroyed, as if 
it had been determined that oblivion should for ever rest over 
his fate. He was executed," or rather murdered, privately and 
ignominiously, with every mark of insult and barbarity which 
haughty and heartless power could command, or cowardly and 
ferocious underlings inflict — hung by a base, brutal ruffian, a 
traitor and refugee ; a miscreant, who, having disowned his 
country, was probably allowed this office, to strike additional 
terror into his countrymen — to show his new fealty, and vent 
his malicious spite. But lastly, and not least, how different 
the honors to their memory ! The ashes of Andre have been 
reclaimed by his native land, and enshrined beneath a costly 
mausoleum in the hallowed spot of her proudest sepulchres ; 
and there they are now resting in her bosom, side by side with 
her mightiest sons, beneath the time-honored aisles of West- 
minster Abbey. 

No stone, no memorial — not a single identifying token, 
marks the lonely grave of Hale. The fatal tree has been cut 
away, the ground desecrated, the spot long lost. Years of 
cultivated verdure may have grown above it — years of human 
habitations may have covered it — none can tell. The foot- 
steps of thoughtless men trample it day by day : the rains and 
dews descend, and the winds of heaven go over, but reveal 
not the resting place of the departed hero. His ashes are 
hidden or scattered, never to be collected by any affectionate 
hand, and have left but the one consoling reflection, that the 
soil of freedom holds them, — the soil for which he lived and 
died. 



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